seeks to step up India trade talks after WTO breakthrough
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[November 24, 2014]
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The United
States wants to step up its trade dialogue with India, Trade
Representative Michael Froman said on Monday, after the resolution of a
global trade dispute paved the way for President Barack Obama to visit
Direct contacts between Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi
this month helped to end a deadlock that had prevented the World
Trade Organization from implementing a $1 trillion package of
reforms to global customs rules.
"The breakthrough at the WTO could not have been possible without
the direct and personal engagement of Prime Minister Modi and
President Obama," Froman told businessmen in New Delhi in a speech.
He expressed hope that the General Council of the 160-member WTO
would approve a U.S.-Indian agreement on food stockpiling and the
broader Trade Facilitation Agreement, simultaneously, in the next
In India for the first round of high-level trade talks since the
breakthrough, Froman urged progress on key areas of U.S. concern,
such as intellectual property rights on pharmaceuticals and
"This pace of engagement is impressive, but shouldn't be surprising
for what President Obama declared the 'defining partnership of the
21st century'," Froman said.
"Our task is to build on our mutual interests, with mutual respect,
and deliver on the promise of that partnership."
Obama, who hosted Modi in Washington in September, will in January
become the first U.S. president to visit India twice, completing a
remarkable warming in the relationship between the leaders of the
world's two largest democracies.
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The former chief minister of the western state of Gujarat was denied
a U.S. visa from 2005 until his May election victory, over
allegations that he failed to stop sectarian rioting in 2002 that
killed at least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims. He denies wrongdoing.
Froman was due to meet Indian Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitaraman on
Tuesday for the first round of a bilateral U.S.-India trade policy
forum in four years.
The talks will include discussions on a high-level working group on
intellectual property rights set up by Obama and Modi.
(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Nick Macfie and Clarence
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